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Winter Storm Avery takes lives, puts the brakes on commutes across the Northeast. Also on our Friday rundown: A first-of-its-kind report calls for policies to ease transitions of young people living in foster care. And "got gratitude" this holiday season? It could benefit your health.

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“To Do” Lists Head to the General Assembly

January 7, 2008

Richmond, VA – The "to do" lists are ambitious as the General Assembly gets underway this week. The governor is proposing new investments in mental health care as a result of the Virginia Tech shootings, but there are other issues at stake for Virginians as well.

Ben Greenberg with the Virginia Organizing Project says his group would add a few more topics to the list of "most important," including predatory payday lending practices, health insurance, racial profiling by police departments, and the need for more and better childcare.

According to Greenberg, research shows high-quality childcare pays off in terms of better chances for success when kids grow up. To help provide it, he says the state could expand "scholarships" to help working families with childcare costs.

"We also know, from the employer's perspective, workers are actually much more productive and there's less absenteeism."

Ten thousand children are currently on waiting lists for the childcare scholarships.

Citizens also are concerned about balancing the budget in a shaky economy. Jay Johnson, also with the Virginia Organizing Project, points out that Virginia is still one of the richest states in the country, with per capita incomes in the top ten.

"If you're gonna spend money for things like prisons and roads, then we also need to spend some money on people."

This year's General Assembly session starts Wednesday, and is slated to end March 8th.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - VA